After a week of “Who?” every time I told somebody I was seeing Jon Toogood of Shihad fame this weekend, it was nice to walk into Frankie’s and realise that perhaps I’ve just been hanging out with the wrong people – or maybe I live too far from Bondi for a Kiwi in Sydney – because, as always, Toogood has managed to pull a great crowd which is nothing short of enthusiastic.
Opening the show was a fan favourite Shihad song, Think You’re So Free off the bands most recent release, “FVEY”. Think You’re So Free instantly had the room singing along and definitely set the tone for the night – acoustic or not. Onto another Shihad song, Run, which afterwards had Toogood saying the crowds singing reminded him of Iron Maiden. Not bad for two songs into an acoustic set.
As a show that had been marketed as “a selection of songs that had influenced him, as well as a very different styled delivery of Shihad material,” it wasn’t long before the covers began. The first cover of the night being Australian Crawl’s Reckless, incomplete without messing up the lyrics halfway through, before trying to blame the crowd with “No you drunk f*cks, it goes straight into the second verse!”
Another Shihad classic, Brightest Star, before a short story and asking us to sing as drunkenly as possible – even if we were sober – for the next song, a cover of The Dudes’ “Bliss.” Toogood briefly pausing during the second verse to say, “Now I don’t know the next line, but I’m going to give it a go,” mumbles some indistinguishable jargon, and then, looking proud of himself, exclaiming, “That sounded close enough.” So why would an artist cover a song if they don’t know all the words? Well, Toogood explains afterwards, that he had once asked the singer of The Dudes what that line was, and even he didn’t know. You really couldn’t expect anything less from a song about getting drunk, and then drinking some more.
Back to another Shihad track, with Missionary, before jumping straight back into some more cover songs, with the room singing along at the top of their lungs to Kiwi classic Victoria by The Exponents, before taking it down a notch for a soulful rendition of Aldous Harding’s Horizon, and The Verve’s Lucky Man. Back to the Shihad classics again, with Pacifier, before a couple more covers of Dragon’s Rain, and Split Enz I Got You, had the crowd singing along like the night was never going to end.
Toogood now introduces us to “the dead people section,” which he explains he loves, but it makes him sad, before telling a story of how much David Bowie’s death impacted him. “You’re not supposed to die, David, you’re supposed to live forever to remind us what cool is. Always. That really hurt, unlike Lemmy from Motorhead. When I found out he died, I was like, “f*ck, he made it to 70? Awesome! That guy did speed for breakfast from when he was three, man. So he did really f*cking well, y’know? But David Bowie was not supposed to die, so when he did die, I thought, ‘f*ck it, I’m going to try a David Bowie song in my set.’” Naturally, next up were a couple of Bowie covers in the form of Ziggy Stardust and Suffragette City. Next up in the “dead peoples section” were a couple of covers from another artist whose death greatly impacted Toogood – Tom Petty. Free Fallin’ and I Won’t Back Down had the room singing along like their lives depended on it.
Onto the last Shihad track for the night, Home Again, with a change of lyrics in the introductory line to “Put your c*ck back in your undies” causing great amusement, until midway through the song when, with a loud ‘pop’ the PA blew. Yes you read that correctly, one man and an acoustic guitar managed to blow the PA. If that doesn’t describe the energy in the room, I’m not sure what does. While taking some time to try and get it sorted, Toogood explains that it’d be too quiet if he tried to finish without being plugged in – and that he really needed it for the last song. With the excitement and curiosity in the room rising in anticipation to hear the track he had told us was up next, he managed to get it working again with a different guitar. Jumping straight back into the second half of Home Again before walking over to the corner of the stage for no less than a minute in his fake encore. Then he was back, standing up for the first song of the night, adjusting his microphone and asking “How do I adjust this mic so I look like Lemmy?” It didn’t take long for him to settle on ‘good enough,’ before powering into a high energy rendition of Motorhead’s Ace Of Spades to end the night.
With a set spanning a good hour and a half, Toogood certainly proved that acoustic shows don’t have to be short, boring or low energy. An eventful night full of great music and many laughs had everybody in attendance absolutely buzzing by the end of the show. If you’re in Victoria, don’t miss the last show of this tour tonight at Sooki Lounge. The next time we see Toogood on tour will most likely be with Shihad, as he thinks their next album will be released next year.
Watch this space…